West Bengal, the undisputed Santosh Trophy champions have won the title once more. Bengal now have won the national football championships 31 times. Tonight at Guwahati's Nehru Stadium West Bengal defeated Manipur 2-1 to defend their title.
It was initially an open game with young Manipuris the more active side as Bengal took a wait and watch approach as they slowly got into the match, but then striker Branco Cardozo gave them a 21st minute lead with a good effort off a pass from Francis Xavier. It remained 1-0 for Bengal until the break.
Just three minutes into the second session Bengal doubled the lead when youngster Budhiram Tudu scored to give the defending champions a 2-0 lead. But it wasn't over yet as Manipur went all out in the last 20 minutes. The Northeastern state reduced the deficit in the 75th minute through a Nabachandra Singh goal, but they couldn't get onto the scoresheet anymore in the last quarter of the match as the game ended 2-1 in favour of Bengal.
After the final whistle it was celebration time for West Bengal. Coach Shabbir Ali had defended last years title with a totally different set of players with youngsters Branco Cardozo and Bidhuram Tudu the heros with their numerous goals through the campaign though once more for Bengal it was a team effort which won them the title.
Manipur 1-2 West Bengal
0-1 Branco Cardozo (21'), 0-2 Budhiram Tudu (48'), 1-2 Nabachandra Singh (75')
Naseem Akhtar; Gurpreet Singh, Anupam Sarkar, Safar Sardar, Suman Dey; Francis Xavier (63' Surabuddin Mallick), Gautam Kujur, Santosh Oraon, Snehasish Datta; Branco Cardozo (89' Avinaba Bag), Budhiram Tudu (83' Bikash Narzary)
Prem Singh, Ratan Singh (55' Thomas Singh), Hemanta Singh, K. Naoba Singh, Reagan Singh, Santosh Singh, Ajit Singh, Tiken Singh, Nabachandra Singh, Nilakumar Singh, Meihingai Kamei